Bowling alley owner charged with molesting five more boys

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The owner of a bowling alley in Mercer County, already awaiting trial in two molestation cases involving seven young boys, has been charged again with molesting five more boys between 2008 and last year.

James M. Kopan, 47, owner of the Tornado Alley bowling lanes in Coolspring, was arrested last week by state troopers and now faces a combined 55 felony and 21 misdemeanor counts pertaining to 12 boys ranging in age from 10 to 15.

Troopers said in an affidavit that two adults also have come forward to say Mr. Kopan molested them, too, when they were minors, but the statute of limitations will likely prevent another prosecution.

In the current case, Mr. Kopan is charged with unlawful contact with minors, indecent exposure and related offenses for conduct at the bowling alley. The boys said they would spend the night there and that Mr. Kopan would expose himself to them, show them pornography, slide naked with them on a Slip N Slide, bounce naked with them on a trampoline and masturbate in front of them at various times.

He turned himself in on Friday and is free on bond.

The current case and the two previous ones are pending in Mercer County Common Pleas Court, although Mr. Kopan's lawyer indicated last month that his client planned to plead guilty and faces more than two decades in prison.

Trooper Troy Owen began investigating molestation claims in January, when four boys reported incidents they said occurred at Tornado Alley in November 2010.

That case led to a second one, started last month, when three more boys came forward and said Mr. Kopan had molested them at the bowling alley in May 2010.

The latest case involves two 10-year-olds, two 15-year-olds and a 13-year-old, all of whom recounted similar episodes as the boys in the other cases. In addition, Trooper Owen said they provided the names of more juveniles who were present at the alley at the time of the incidents, but those boys have yet to come forward to give a statement.

Trooper Owen said Mr. Kopan also was under investigation in 2000 concerning similar acts with young boys at the alley. According to a report from Children and Youth Services, Mr. Kopan was interviewed in April of that year and said he had children spend the night at the bowling alley and would "wrestle" with them. He denied touching them, however.

The case was classified as unfounded, Trooper Owen said, because witness statements "were found to be vague."


Torsten Ove: tove@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1510.


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